X-ray scanners to be installed in prisons after successful trial in Doncaster

X-ray scanners are due to be installed in 16 of the country's ‘most challenging’ jails after a successful trial in which the equipment was tested in Doncaster.

By Claire Lewis
Friday, 24th January 2020, 9:14 am
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 9:05 pm

Birmingham, Liverpool and Winchester will be the next three prisons to receive the technology before it is rolled out later in the year.

The scanners, developed for the Prison Service, can produce ‘instant images from inside the human body’ and reveal internally concealed contraband like drugs, phones and weapons, in a level of detail not previously available.

Prisons with high volumes of remand prisoners, which the MoJ said pose the ‘greatest risk of smuggling’, are being prioritised.

X-ray scanners are due to be installed in 16 of the 'most challenging' jails in the UK.

Earlier this month an inspection report found violence had ‘markedly increased’ at HMP Winchester, which has been the subject of a prison documentary, and more than half of the prisoners said it was easy to get drugs into the building.

A week later the watchdog found there had been dramatic improvements at HMP Liverpool, previously criticised as having some of the worst conditions ever seen by inspectors, but there were ‘still too many drugs entering the prison’.

In June, a review of standards at HMP Birmingham questioned an ‘inexplicable’ failure to secure funding for scanners to prevent drugs being smuggled into the jail.

Exeter, Durham, Preston, Hewell, Lincoln, Bedford, Norwich, Chelmsford, Elmley, Pentonville, Wandsworth, Bristol and Cardiff prisons will also receive scanners in the latest phase of the roll-out.

HMP Lindholme

Installation will begin in the spring with all scanners anticipated to be in place by the summer.

Around £28 million, out of a £100 million fund to boost security in prisons, will be used to pay for all the scanners which are eventually hoped to be installed in the majority of closed adult male jails.

It follows the successful use of older models of similar scanners in the ‘10 Prisons Project’ to crack down on violence and drug use in Hull, Humber, Leeds, Lindholme, Moorland, Wealstun, Nottingham, Ranby, Wormwood Scrubs and Isis.

Prisons Minister Lucy Frazer said: “New technology is a vital part of our efforts to stop those determined to wreak havoc in our jails.

“These scanners will help to stem the flow of contraband into jails and allow officers to focus on rehabilitation.”